In Her Honor

Every Hallowe’en I offer homage to a remarkable woman. In that tradition, I am reposting, in her honor, my heartfelt tribute.

There had been rumors, rustlings of something very bad afoot. Those with whom she had spent a lifetime, and shared in the most intimate of household experiences, from childbirth to preparing a departed loved one for burial, shoulder to shoulder, together through it all; those who once sought her out for help, comfort, and wisdom, averted their eyes when passing her on the street.

She knew it was bad, and as always before in times of extreme challenge, family drew close and embraced each other, fortifying themselves against the coming storm. Embraced, fortified, loved, and supported; thoroughly repented and prayed up, there was nothing more she could do but trust God would be with her in this time of need, and sustain her soul in spite of the dread fear clawing at her insides day and night.

Arrests in the village had begun, and on March 19, the accusations fell. Four days later, on March 23, a warrant was issued, and she was arrested the following day, accused of attacks on adults and two young girls. They took her from home and family, held her in jail, there being subjected to examinations, both oral and physical. On June 2, with a doctor and several women present, her whole body was examined, searching for evidence to confirm accusations leveled against her. The doctor and witnesses reported finding a “preternatural excrescence of flesh” which later in the day, by 4:00 o’clock, had changed, and appeared to be only dry skin.

On June 3, she was indicted. Thirty-nine neighbors, at great personal risk, signed a petition and presented it on her behalf, and during the ensuing trial, neighbors and relatives testified for her. In spite of the dire accusations, she represented herself in court, proclaiming repeatedly, innocence and unshakeable belief there would be intervention, pleading truth to come forth, so she would be delivered from such heinous defamation and the intended destruction of her very life.

Witnesses continued testifying for and against her on June 29 and 30; finally, the jury found her not guilty. There was such a hue and cry by the accusers and spectators when the verdict was announced, the court asked for the verdict to be reconsidered, and upon that request, she was found guilty and condemned to hang.

On July 12, her death warrant was signed; on July 19, she was hanged on the accusations of two children for being a witch.

And John Greenleaf Whittier wrote the epitaph for my ancestor’s gravestone:

Rebecca Nurse
Yarmouth, England 1621
Salem, Mass. 1692

O Christian Martyr who for truth could die
When all around thee owned the hideous lie!
The world redeemed from Superstition’s sway
Is breathing freer for thy sake today

Many words, plays, movies, and books have been written about Rebecca Nurse. In her honor, I would like to add, she was seventy-one years old, a devoted wife, mother of eight children, grandmother of eighteen children; dignified, respected, not unlike any one of us. She was my family, and not a witch.


Posted in Aging, American History, Baby Boomers, Courage, Current Events, Death, Faith, Family, Genealogy, Life Journey, Rebecca Nurse, Salem Witch Trials, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Oh, Say Can You See…

This has been a hard thing to watch. Until I moved from my little valley town in California, located ninety miles from San Francisco, and became a card carrying, web-footed, Vitamin D deficient Pacific Northwesterner, my entire indoctrination into and passion for football was summed up in a word: 49ers. My family never missed a game broadcast on television, nor failed to love and support our team even when they were not very loveable, nor supportable. Didn’t matter. They were our team.

Over the years, I changed allegiance to the Seattle Seahawks, and have been a 12, loud and proud, since they became a team in 1976. However, there is a part of me that still loves my childhood team, and follows them, carefully. Through the good times and bad, I have loved not only them, but the family history and memories tied so closely to these autumn warriors.

Now, I’m saddened and emotionally benched over the attention that has been drawn to the 49ers, thanks to Colin Kaepernick. The words and intent of his protest are laudable. No doubt about it. Mr Kaepernick said:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

And his right to protest? I believe with my entire being that it is his Constitutional right to peacefully protest what he perceives as wrongdoing in this country. I fervently wish there were more citizens who saw the wrongs, the mishandling of our police forces, the inequities from border to border; citizens who would link arm in arm, and move as a mighty wave across the land, peacefully compelling all of America to be determined, and extinguish once and for all the painful brutality that is descrimination and racism.

My problem comes with how disingenuous kneeling during our national anthem seems. It supposedly was to ignite dialogue about the race issues we all have witnessed. I have read and heard a lot of dialogue, and it was all regarding Mr Kaepernick, his right to protest as a member of an NFL team and as an American citizen. Nothing about race issues, nor how they can be resolved.

Even today, I paid close attention to a discussion about Mr Kaepernick. And it was about his hair. His hair! It is taking on the appearance of hair seen in the protest days of the 60s and 70s, but what does that matter? It’s hair!

What does matter to me is the facade. I know of Mr Kaepernick’s very privileged upbringing. He was raised in an even smaller town than mine, about nine miles from where I grew up. Now he wears police/pig socks, kneels during our national anthem, turns a cold shoulder to our flag, and is beginning to use inner city dialect in his speech. That word, disingenuous, keeps popping into my mind, over and over.

I have said I do believe in protest. I believe in exercising our Constitutional rights whenever, wherever, and however we can to push that juggernaut of societal change forward. Peacefully. Effectively.

During years of working inside and outside of the system, I found genuine protest is more believable, and requires a lot more guts, if there is risk involved. It is a matter of return on an investment. My friend from the days of our civil rights protests in the 60s used to say, “No guts, no glory!” If one is not investing anything, nor risking anything, there really isn’t much to lose.

So, what has Mr Kaepernick to lose in all his kneeling during the National Anthem? If we read the analyses of reactions to his behavior, and potential outcomes, it’s questionable whether he will be particularly impacted one way or another.

Personally, I, for one, would take him more seriously if he took just his $11.9 million 2016 guaranteed salary, alone, and distributed it to inner city redevelopment, or bought shoes, coats, backpacks, school supplies, or sports equipment for schools located in distressed neighborhoods. Any real investment, that produced tangible results, would work for me on the believability scale of Mr Kaepernick’s intentions.

And one more thought that causes me such disappointment: So he takes a knee during the national anthem? I stand alone in my living room, hand on heart whenever I hear it, and can’t stop the tears. It means that much to me.

Perhaps, it ultimately and finally does comes down to our investment. How much of the life and heart of your family history that has been poured into this country is something that really does matter to so many of us Americans. Lackluster, overpaid, ungrateful sports figures will be forgotten soon enough. And the graves of our loved ones, found in National Cemeteries and others all across the nation, will be here long after Mr Flash In The Pan has been forgotten.

Posted in Baby Boomers, Childhood, Civil Rights, Communication, Courage, Current Events, Football | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Truth Be Told

Yesterday there was a story and video in the news about a sighting of a UFO close to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. I watched the video of the UFO, which was filmed by a couple who had been recording the sunset from their home. Unlike most, this video was fairly steady, and remarkably clear. I am no expert, and admit this UFO looks different from any photograph or video I have seen, before. However, it was definitely an object hovering in the sky, and made a most unusual exit when it left.


The best description I can offer is it had the appearance of a large anvil, blue in color. And it simply hovered in the sky. When whatever appointed task was completed, it slowly rose to the clouds above, and seemed to be absorbed into them. No fanfare, no darting about, no noise or flashy lights; it was there, and then it wasn’t. Fascinating.

Do I believe in UFOs? I say a most definite maybe; a very cautious I think there is a strong possibility that perhaps UFOs, their crews and passengers are a part of life on this planet. Or not. But maybe. I am not an experiencer, and never wish to be; however, one cannot, with the wave of a cavalier hand, simply dismiss all the reports of those who, over the years, have observed and experienced other world phenomena. What I believe is that these experiencers believe with their whole beings they have encountered something more than any of us would have dreamed of in our wildest imaginings. And the stories are legion.

There is a lot of discussion, today, regarding the truth finally being revealed. Excited discussion of imminent disclosure. Who will be the one to spill the beans? Our current president, or the next elected one? Britain, Russia, the Pope? So much speculation over who will say what and when. The dialogue proceeds to how the world will react to news that all the years of science fiction stories and movies weren’t fiction at all.


The religious community does not fare well in this scenario. It is anticipated to have a collective meltdown, somehow having its foundation destroyed if mankind is not alone in the whole scheme of God and His creation. I have heard this repeated again and again, but still cannot figure out why anyone would lose faith in their God over learning He had more in mind than just them. It seems to me, it simply makes Him bigger than we first thought, and certainly more capable of managing all the heavens He created, in the first place.

There also is a large base of UFO believers who are looking toward official acknowledgement of an agreement supposedly made between President Eisenhower and aliens that gave them permission to abduct citizens of Planet Earth in exchange for technology. If this be true, there are going to be a lot of very angry people that something so nefarious was agreed upon in the first place, and that no one ever put a stop to such egregious actions after citizens reported the heinous things being done to them. Someone is going to have to answer for violations of innocent citizenry, and someone needs to be held accountable.


All in all, one cannot believe every single thing being said or written about UFOs or the off worlders who may or may not be visiting Earth. Nor can one offhandedly dismiss the experiences reported daily. I do know there is a plethora of information being withheld, or at the very least, zealously guarded. From us? Why? By whom? Why? Knowing may cause a paradigm shift of epic proportion, but that is the way of it in an expanding universe. Are we ready? I do not know. But, at the risk of sounding trite, the truth is out there, and it is time it is told.

Posted in Alien Abduction, Aliens, American History, Baby Boomers, Communication, Current Events, Disclosure, Faith, Life Journey, Presidents, UFOs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Extra Extra Read All About It

It’s been almost two years since I moved to this little town I now call home. Up until last month, I spent most of my time here caring for others, resolving their unfinished business, and endeavoring to build a new life for myself; because after all the work is done, tomorrows continue rolling in, and I wish to furnish them with the best me, and environmet that I can.

While all this has swirled around my months of activity, time and again, I have tried to figure out how the rest of  the world accomplishes its tasks with such ease, as opposed to the comedy of errors which accompany and complicate the simplest things I attempt. I do not recall a time when it was not like this, which is probably why I find so much irony in just about everything; irony being, to me, life’s knee slapping, hilarious means by which we get from one moment to the next.

girl-laughing-animation-clipart-1Need an example from today, alone? This morning began with a much anticipated newspaper delivery. I called my local newspaper yesterday, and arranged a year’s subscription. It was fun speaking with the customer service agent, and during our conversation, she told me she would find the best rate out there. All right! She searched and found a rate that was perfect for me, so I ordered home delivery for a year, and paid for it then and there. She said my first paper would be delivered today. I should have known this experience was too much fun, and way too easy,

I brought my paper in from the porch, today, right after sunrise. Preparing coffee, I absently stared at the tiny rolled up paper where it lay on the ottoman. Hmmm. That thing was really small. I realize my town is not huge, but it is a college town, and I have found a newspaper’s size tends to be proportionate to the size of its population. This was an odd little roll of printed paper, secured with a tiny rubber band.

Sitting with my cup of hot coffee, and feeling very content, I removed the rubber band, happily anticipating delving into local weekend news from my little Oregon town. **Surprise!!** Local news was going to have to wait, because what greeted me, and explained its tiny size, was a newspaper from the next town over, about nine miles as the crow flies, across the Willamette and Calapooia Rivers.


Now, I am sure the Albany Democrat-herald is a fine paper, but I do to live in Albany, and I certainly did not order their newspaper. I concluded it was a simple carrier mistake; this must be a common error for new subscriptions. No worries. I believed a quick phone call to the Circulation Department would set matters straight in a blink, and all would be well by Sunday. Not even close!

The customer service agent I reached was charming and polite, albeit she could not hear very well.  After spelling my five letter last name four times, and repeating my address even more; she said, “You know, I think I will turn the volume up on my phone, so I can hear better.” All right! That seemed a very good idea for both of us.

Once the agent figured out who I was and understood I received the wrong paper, things really started rolling. Downhill. She began with several “Uh oh’s”, and progressed to “Oh no’s”. It seems the agent with whom I spoke yesterday got carried away in trying to find me a good deal. She found the cheapest promotional rate, but neglected to notice it was not in my town, nor my county.


Today’s agent searched and searched, unfortunately only coming up with a rate for my newspaper that was triple what I paid for the wrong one. She apologized profusely, and asked what I would like to do. Being ever practical, it was an easy decision. Keep the wrong newspaper! I saw no reason to pay three times as much for a paper I had been reading online for almost two years. I already paid for this new one, it was only a nine mile difference, and if it really became a problem, I could drive over to Albany, and read the paper there.

Besides, my last fortune cookie advised me to expand my borders. All right then. Consider it done!


Posted in Baby Boomers, Communication, Life Journey, Newspaper, Oregon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Her Story, Her Way

I want you to help me write my obituary.

Sure. What would you like to say?

Okay, it has to begin with, I was born on a high and windy hill.

No. You weren’t born on a high and windy hill. What are you talking about?

I was born on a high and windy hill. And the doctor who delivered me drove a buggy pulled by the most beautiful black horse in five counties.

Whoa. First of all, you weren’t born on a high and windy hill. You were born on a flat Oklahoma prairie, where a dirt clod was the highest elevation for twenty miles in any direction. And your doctor drove a Model T Ford. Where are you coming up with this stuff?

This is my obituary, and I want it to read this way. It was a dark and stormy night on a high and windy hill.

No. The dark and stormy night already has been done, you were born at 8:45 in the morning, and I am not going to write things that are not true. Why don’t we just write what happened? The real stuff?

Do you mind? I believe this is my story, and I don’t need to clear it with you. When you write your obituary, make it as boring as you want. This one is mine, and I like the way it sounds. Are you going to help me, or not?

A few moments pass. Just thinking and evaluating kinds of moments.

All right. Let’s do it your way. I believe we have you being born on a high and windy hill on an Oklahoma prairie, where your doctor arrived in his Model T, pulled by a black stallion, in the middle of what may or may not have been a dark, stormy morning in the middle of the night.

A few moments pass. Just thinking and evaluating kinds of moments.

Well, maybe I need to think about this a little more. You get me some tea, and I will give the details another going over. I still like the high and windy hill, though.

She did not have time to rewrite her story. My mother passed away last Sunday night. And even though we never did finish that imaginative beginning of her life, I recall perfectly the joy it gave her as she created those scenes in her mind, those wondrous moments that were far more real to her than the actual event.

I have been thinking about ways my mom would have appreciated acknowledging her passing. One way was to go ahead and write her story just the way she told it to me. Another is to celebrate her life with fun and color and nonsense. Because she was fun, colorful and full of nonsense.

Elisabeth Kubler Ross said, “I have told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated. For me, death is a graduation.” I have a package of balloons in my closet, that have been waiting there for just such an occasion. When my children and grandchildren are here, I do believe we will be releasing a great burst of color into the sky, shouting, We love you Mom, we love you Grandma!! And we will see you again.





Posted in Aging, Baby Boomers, Death, Elderly, Family, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Life Journey, Memories, Nostalgia, Relationships, Uncategorized, Writers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

A Hardship That Never Was

Life has a way of wearing down what it considers my rough edges. It never seems to matter that I like me just the way I am (thank you, Mr Rogers), and would prefer to be left alone with all my quirky imperfections, intact. And how does this consistently unwelcome action occur? Easy. The things I dislike and fuss over the most, I regularly get opportunities to repeat until I finally yield, and say, “All right then; enough“. And make no mistake, all the times I do not really mean it do not count; the universe knows when I am sincere, and when I am sort of, and mostly not really on board.

My current experience in the land of “I do not want to do this, and I don’t know why you can’t just leave me be” has been interesting, in that I could not have been a more reluctant participant, and yet the end result is I actually have had an exceedingly wonderful time, and am feeling very grateful for it.

This said experience all came about when the owners of my apartment complex decided a major renovation to each unit was due. It is a large complex, so much planning went into accomplishing the remodel with as little disruption to the residents’ lives as possible. They have over eighty apartments in five buildings, and decided the most efficient way to get the job done was to work on four units at a time.

From the day I first heard of the plans, I kept my head down, and simply pretended it would not affect me for a long time, because I live in Apartment 42. No need to get all worked up when there were forty-one units ahead of me. Right? Silly me. How was I to know my apartment number was irrelevant, because it happens to be located in Building 1, and of course renovation had to begin in Building 1, because it is Building 1. So, my dreams of being left alone until sometime this summer went up in smoke as I found myself in the first wave of residents to be shuffled out of our apartments.

And what were they going to do with us when the builders were tearing down, and then building up? Why, move us to a hotel for a month, of course. We all had been told we would be given thirty days notice before we had to relocate, and we were provided a list of hotels from which to choose for our little vacations. Since I have dietary needs that prevent me from eating in restaurants, or enjoying the convenience of take-out food, I required a room with a kitchenette, so I could do my own cooking. I chose a hotel that provided a kitchen, and was located in the center of my usual shopping, errand-running territory. If I had to do this, it seemed the most convenient for my needs and lifestyle.

Even with the thirty day notice I had been given, when moving day came on February 4th, I was more than a little grumpy. There were no unpleasant words spoken; however, one look at my frowning face, and clenched jaw muscles gave everyone a big clue as to what my mood was. Fortunately, the owners also had made arrangements for movers to come in and pack up what we needed to take to the hotel, and transport it there for us, which lessened my grouchiness, considerably. By 9:00 AM, everything was packed and loaded onto the moving van, and I was on my way to a month’s stay in a hotel.

Feeling put upon, and indulging the extreme dislike I have for suitcases, hotels, and traveling in general, I was ready to sulk the entire month. But, arriving at my new home away from home with such a dismal attitude was so contrary to my normal, cheerful behavior, I began feeling ashamed as soon as I was in the elevator, riding up to my room. It was a no brainer that I needed to accept the month’s relocation, and frankly stop being so crabby about it.

By the time I found my room, and all my things were brought up to me, I began to realize, one more time, what I believed was going to be a huge imposition was really not a bad thing, at all. It turned out they did not just provide me a hotel room with a microwave, which is what I was expecting. Instead, I have a lovely suite with kitchen, living room with fireplace, nice large bathroom, and a bedroom that has a community-sized jacuzzi in it. The staff have been so sweet and kind, I feel as though I should be doing something for them, in some way, just to balance the universe a little. So far I have refrained from hugging the stuffing out of them all; I do not think they would understand. But, the manner in which I have been treated for the last two weeks has been a balm to a very tired soul, and I am grateful beyond words.

Barring any delays in construction, I will return to my apartment in a week and a half. I realize this experience has been a very gentle sanding of one more rough edge; and hopefully, next time I need to do something that does not appeal to me, I will remember this, and not put myself into such a state of anxiety and bad humor. After all, a month’s worth of reading in front of the fireplace, watching as many movies as I like, and having housekeepers come everyday to tidy up my little place is about as close to feeling like a princess as I have come in a very long time. And it is good to be pampered once in a while, especially when the lesson learned was born out of a hardship that never was.


Posted in Aging, Baby Boomers, Home, Learning, Life Journey, Moving, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Not My Favorite Author, You Don’t

I freely admit I am a news junkie. The very first things I read as a little kid were newspapers my parents had finished reading and cast aside. I did not fully understand the stories, and what they meant; but I did know what I was reading was important to someone, somewhere, or it would not be reported and printed. Following current events is a lifelong passion, given to a desire for awareness and understanding of who we are as a society, and how we are doing on this struggling planet.

Some stories are much the same as they have been for years. Different names, different places, but all in all, the same old behaviors masquerading as something newer and more important than yesterday’s story. Not that they lack importance, they just do not reflect much originality in the scope of humanity’s headlong rush to break each other, or the planet on which we all dwell.

Then, one day words fairly jump off a page, and the news is so shocking, so unsettling it will not go away. This is precisely what happened on January 3, 2015. I have told myself to let it go, and used my daughter’s favorite quote, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”; but I cannot shake off how disturbed and concerned I am over the latest, and what will probably be the biggest literary news of this decade, and many to come.

The Associated Press broke the story, releasing an announcement by Harper Lee’s publisher that on July 14, 2015, they are going to publish a book she wrote in the 1950s titled, Go Set a Watchman, a sequel to her bestseller, Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The manuscript for this book was “stumbled upon last fall” by Ms Lee’s attorney, Tonja Carter, who just happened to be pawing through items hidden away in the attic of the house Ms Lee shared with her sister, Alice Lee, who was the attorney, protector, and lifelong confidante of her sister until, at the age of 103, she died in November.

The publisher included a dandy little quote to go along with the announcement, in which Ms Lee supposedly stated, “After much thought and hesitation, I shared the manuscript with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this now will be published after all these years”.

There are some critically significant things to consider in this story. Harper Lee has stated over the years she never published, nor would she publish another book, because she had one story to tell, and she did not wish to tell it again. In 2007, she had a stroke that left her confined to a wheelchair, almost completely deaf, forgetful, and added to macular degeneration, practically blind. She resides in an assisted living facility, and at 88 years old, is very frail, and showing signs of advanced age. It was reported at her sister’s funeral this last fall that she talked loudly to herself, and mumbled throughout the service, shocking those in attendance. It also has been reported, because of the above conditions, she will sign anything put in front of her by someone she trusts, without knowing or understanding what it is she is signing.

With all these things taken together, especially the loss of her protector, guardian, gatekeeper sister, and the fragile state of her health, both physical and mental; the timing of this announcement, and actual publishing of the book seem to cloak whatever intentions there might have been in a fog, an appearance of wrongdoing, and possible abuse of a helpless, elderly woman.

It is possible I am incorrect. However, having worked for years with the elderly, and having been a mandated reporter, I believe that a referral to Ms Lee’s local or state Adult Protective Services needs to be made before any further action is taken regarding the publishing of her book. She can be evaluated, and if she is capable of making competent decisions, and can communicate her will to an objective outsider, more power to her, and a grand culmination of her life’s work at this end stage. But, if she is being taken advantage of, may the forces of all that is right and proper in the law of this land come down on the heads of those who would do harm, and use her for their own greedy avarice and profit.

Harper Lee is the woman who wrote my favorite book, and I have held her in the highest esteem since 1960. I have admired her from afar these many years, and respected her individuality with regards to choices she made, literary and personal. Now that she has come this far, and her book has given so much to all of us, I say without equivocation, this woman deserves peace, honor, and serenity for all her enduring days, because it still is a sin to kill a mockingbird.







Posted in 1960's, Aging, Baby Boomers, Books, Communication, Current Events, Elderly, Life Journey, Reading, Uncategorized, Writers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments